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On the fore-finger of an alderman,
SI HENRY WOTton. 1568-16 39.
Wotton was less famed as a poet than as a political character. He was for a time in the service of the Earl of Essex, and was afterwards employed by James I. as ambassador to Venice. He finally took orders, and became Provost of Eton. A memoir of his curious life was written by Izaak Walton.
A FAREWELL TO THE VANITIES OF THE WORLD.
FAREWELL, ye gilded follies, pleasing troubles ;
Welcome, pure thoughts! welcome, ye silent groves!
SIR JOHN DAVIES. 1570-1626. The principal poetical works of this author are a philosophical poem On the Soul of Man and the Immortality thereof; and a poem entitled, Orchestra, or a Poem of Dancing; in a Dialogue between Penelope and one of her Wooers. The fame of these introduced him to James I., who made him solicitor-general and attorney-general for Ireland. The following is from Antinous to Penelope, on her declining to dance with him.
THE DANCING OF THE AIR.
And common neighbor that aye runs around,
Within her empty regions are there found,
For what are breath, speech, echoes, music, winds,
But dancings in the air, in sundry kinds ?
Now in, now out, in time and measure true;
That doubling oft, and oft redoubling new,
For all the words that from your lips repair
And then, sweet music, dancing's only life,
The ear's sole happiness, the air's best speech,
The soft mind's paradise, the sick mind's leech,
That when the air doth dance her finest measure,
Lastly, where keep the Winds their revelry,
Their violent turnings, their wild whistling lays,
Where she herself is turned a hundred ways,
Yet, in this misrule, they such rule embrace,
REASONS FOR THE SOUL'S IMMORTALITY, AGAIN, how can she but immortal be,
When, with the motions of both will and wit,
And never rests till she attain to it?
Of the same kind, which shows their nature such; So earth falls down, and fire doth mount above,
Till both their proper elements do touch.
And as the moisture which the thirsty earth
Sucks from the sea to fill her empty veins, From out her womb at last doth take a birth,
And runs, a lymph, along the grassy plains,
Long doth she stay, as loth to leave the land
From whose soft side she first did issue make; She tastes all places, turns to every hand,
Her flowery banks unwilling to forsake. . Yet nature so her streams doth lead and carry
As that her course doth make no final stay,
Within whose watery bosom first she lay.
The spirit of God doth secretly infuse,
And only this material world she views, At first, her mother earth she holdeth dear, · And doth embrace the world and worldly things; She flies close by the ground, and hovers here,
And mounts not up, with her celestial wings; — Yet, under heaven, she cannot light on aught
That with her heavenly nature doth agree; , She cannot rest, she cannot fix her thought,
She cannot in this world contented be.
For who did ever yet, in honor, wealth,
Or pleasure of the sense, contentment find ?
Or, having wisdom, was not vexed in mind ?
Which seem sweet flowers with lustre fresh and gay,
But, pleased with none, doth rise and soar away -
And, like Noah's dove, can no sure footing take,
And flies to him that first her wings did make.
Ben Jonson. 1574-1637. Ben Jonson has generally been considered second to Shakspeare, (of whom he was ten years the junior,) in the dramatic literature of their time. The first part of his life was full of hardship and vicissitude. At an early age, he was taken from school, and put to the employment of brick-laying. He afterwards enlisted as a soldier, and was distinguished for his bravery. After this, for a very short period, he was a member of college. About the age of twenty, he is found married, and an actor, in London ; but, as an actor, he completely failed. He quarrelled with another performer, killed him in a duel, in which he himself was severely wounded, was committed to prison on a charge of murder, but was released without trial. On regaining his liberty, he began writing for the stage. Some passages in a comedy entitled Eastward Hoe, written conjointly by Jonson and two others, and reflecting on the Scottish nation, caused James I. to throw the authors into prison, and to threaten them with the loss of their ears and noses; but they were soon set at liberty, without trial. He was afterwards appointed poet laureate, with a pension; was, with Shakspeare, Beaumont, and Fletcher, one of Raleigh's Mermaid Club, at which the guests “ exercised themselves with · wit combats’ more bright and genial than their wine.” He died, after being a long time confined to his house by attacks of palsy, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, the words, “O RARE BEN JONSON," being inscribed upon the stone which marked the spot.
(From the “ New Inn."]